Let Us Play!

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Decade-long veterans of the electronica scene, label heads of the respected Ninja Tune records, owners of their own mix show on Radio 1, and Coldcut still haven't learned to make a good long-player. While Jonathan More and Matt Black were responsible for one of the highlights of electronic music history with their 1996 Journeys By DJ compilation, Let Us Play! shows the duo weighed down by a long cast of collaborators (much as their last proper album, 1989's What's That Noise?). While the presence of funk drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, old-school rap impresario Steinski, post-punk and spoken-word firebrand Jello Biafra, tabla specialist Talvin Singh (plus sympathizers like the Herbaliser and Jimpster on production) does provide several highlights -- and also testifies to Coldcut's philosophy of throwing hip-hop, electronica, funk, and a little bit of a whole lot more into the ring and enjoying the free-for-all -- the album moves much slower than Coldcut's mix material (which usually averages two minutes per track, as opposed to six or seven on Let Us Play). Besides the syrupy feel of the LP, the abundance of message tracks ("Noah's Toilet," Biafra's "Every Home a Prison," "Cloned Again") subvert the message of the title, indicative of Coldcut's playful qualities over the years. The lone highlight is the single "More Beats + Pieces," a remake of the 1988 original, which was constructed from samples in homage to pioneering hip-hop DJs who manned two turntables with little opportunity to fall back on samplers and expensive keyboards.

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